Monica H. Green on the Black Death and the Global History of Disease

Click on the images below to open the gallery and see them full-size. For a brief commentary on the difficulties of sourcing images that depict the medical effects of the mid-fourteenth-century wave of plague firsthand, see this article in NPR, which quotes Dr. Green.

Welcome to the sixth episode of the Global History Podcast. This is the first segment of our new mini-series, ‘Global Histories of Health, Medicine, and Disease in the Early Modern World’. We’ve decided that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it hopefully could be relevant and helpful to speak with several scholars about disease, health, and medicine in the past in a global perspective, as well as the potential relevance of these histories in the present. 

To start us off, we’re pleased to welcome Dr Monica H. Green, Independent Scholar and an elected Fellow of The Medieval Academy of America, whose research career has spanned from the histories of women’s medicine in medieval Europe to the global history of the Black Death and beyond.

Some of her key works include the inaugural volume of The Medieval Globe, called Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death,  which she edited, as well as her 2018 article ‘Putting Africa on the Black Death Map: Narratives from Genetics and History‘. Coming up, she’ll be publishing an article in Centaurus called ‘Emerging Diseases, Re-emerging Histories’. She’ll also be speaking in a public webinar of the Medieval Academy of America this Friday, the 15th of May, at 1-3 PM Eastern Daylight Time, called “The Mother of All Pandemics: The State of Black Death Research in the Era of Covid-19”. You can join the session via zoom, and if you aren’t able to listen live, it will also be recorded and posted online. In the longer term, Dr. Green is working on a book project about the global history of the Black Death.

This week, Chase spoke with Dr. Green over skype about the global history of disease. The conversation focused on the global black death, but also addressed ways in which historians and scientists can collaborate in writing global histories of disease, queried at what point a disease can be called global, and discussed the role of colonization and trade in spreading disease. While the Black Death of the mid-fourteenth-century is chronologically located in the medieval period, its effects were long-lasting, and many of the points Dr. Green makes about the global history of disease more broadly can be applied to many time periods, including the early modern.

If you have any thoughts, questions, or comments about this episode, or would like to pitch us an idea for a new episode, feel free to email us at, or send us a message on our website…

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